My Mother always had problems roasting chicken. Her attempts came out dry and kind of tasteless. We had odd Thanksgiving dinners, the rest of the family was scattered around the country so she had to do the big meal alone. My Dad’s aunt was an excellent cook and Dad was always telling us how wonderful everything she served had been. Now that I’m older I can imagine how it made Mom feel.
I think Mom would have been happier in a science lab than in a kitchen. She thought everything had to be done exactly as stated in a recipe and she made herself positively nuts trying to achieve perfection. She could not think beyond the written page. And my dear Great Aunt could not write a recipe a novice cook could follow. I’ve found some she’d sent Mom; they are only a list of ingredients and minimal directions.
This recipe is a combination of many from cookbooks I’ve collected and a lot of trial and error. It will produce a tasty and moist bird. Serve it with dressing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and homemade rolls.
• 1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds
• Celery ribs
• Thick slice of onion
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the thawed chicken from the packaging. Remove the bag containing the liver, heart, and neck from the chicken’s body cavity. Put those in a small sauce pan and add water. Simmer until done, cool and give them to the cat or dog that has been underfoot. Wash the chicken under cold water and dry well with paper towels. Set aside while you prepare the vegetables.
Use a pan with deep sides like a Dutch oven. I have a stainless steel pan with lid that I use. Cut about 4 or five outer ribs of celery to fit in the bottom of the pan. Cut a slice of onion about the same thickness as the celery and put it in the middle of the bottom of the pan. The chicken will sit on top of the vegetables. Much easier than hunting down a rack that will fit in the pan you use and they add extra flavor to the chicken. Another plus is the chicken will not be welded to the bottom of the pan and there is no nasty rack to clean.
Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Rub soft butter over the skin. I sometimes sprinkle Paprika on the skin after rubbing it with butter. Tuck the wings under the chicken and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Do not fill the chicken with stuffing. Bake it in a separate baking dish instead of in the chicken. You can never get it all out of the inside of the chicken and bits left inside the cavity provide fodder for bacteria growth. Place the tied and buttered chicken on top of the celery and onion in the baking pan. Cover the pan with a lid or foil.
Bake the chicken 35 minutes per pound and then about 15 minutes longer with the lid or foil off so the skin will brown.
Check to see if it is done by sticking a sharp knife into the meat around the leg joint. When the juice runs clear, not reddish, and the leg moves easily, the chicken is done. Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.
The cooked vegetables in the bottom of the pan can be mashed into potatoes, pureed into the gravy or saved for soup.
Take a few tablespoons of the chicken fat from the pan, put into a large frying pan over medium heat. Stir in about 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour with a whisk, the more flour you use the thicker the gravy will be. Add salt, pepper and sage or poultry seasoning to taste. Cook the flour until it is bubbly. Whisk in two cups of chicken broth from the giblets or water and dry chicken bouillon. Cook over medium heat stirring all the time with a spoon until it thickens as much as you want.
After the meal take the rest of the meat off of the bones. Store the meat in a container in the refrigerator. Put the bones in a stew pot or Dutch oven. Cover with water and simmer covered a couple of hours. Remove the bones and toss them out. Strain the liquid. The liquid is the basis of chicken soup to serve the next day or to store in the freezer.
You can use other vegetables along with the celery and onion if the pan is large enough, like a rectangular baking pan. Add about 4 or 5 large well cleaned potatoes with the skins left on. Cut them in half. Tuck them in around the chicken. Use more onion and more celery. You can also add some cleaned carrots cut in half.